I like learning and getting outside my comfort zone helps me grow personally and professionally. However, it is easier said than done. Recently, I attended a training to deepen my knowledge about Relational Frame Theory (RFT) which is a scientific explanation of language and cognition. I know it sounds fancy and a bit intimidating. The understanding of RFT is important to me because the type of therapy I practice is based on RFT. Anyway, at the workshop, I found the book learning was the easy part along with following the lecture. The hard part was putting the learning into action.
The action part was experiential in nature. Here’s how it went. We got into groups of three: one person played the client, one the therapist and one the observer. Then we rotated roles. The tuff part was being the therapist and feeling judged. At least that was what my mind was telling me. We were told to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone so we could increase our skill level. Not too much just a little. We were told we can learn from our mistakes. Does this advice sound familiar? The following may also sound familiar. My mind went crazy with worry about doing “it” right. The big “IF” became the operative word. Have you had an experience when your mind made matters worse? Of course – we all do.
Another reaction was ambivalence. I believe ambivalence is a defense against feeling vulnerable when deep inside something is really important. It is important to me that I offer the highest level of care and skill to my clients. It is a value I hold close to my heart because I want to help alleviate the struggle people experience with pain and suffering. I believe this is a route to help create world peace one person at a time. That is why I was participating in the RFT workshop with Mathieu Villatte.
I encourage clients, as well as family, friends and loved ones, to be self-compassionate, to offer their inner child unconditional love and to be forgiving towards their mistakes. I talk about mindfulness being the tool or key to achieving this acceptance. During the experiential exercise I had a chance to practice what I hope others will embrace, radical acceptance, and to stop being at war with oneself. Ideally, to be free is to live fully every precious moment of our lives including moments of self-doubt and discomfort.
Tara Brach, Ph. D. writes about Radical Acceptance which is a basis of what I am talking about. If you want to get out of your comfort zone and grow one of the factors to do this is to be willing to feel uncomfortable.
Here is a list of ways to practice getting outside of your comfort zone compiled by Mark at DENORMALISE. Hint, hint, practice mindfully along the way.
- Take a weekend vacation every now and then
- Try one thing that scares you every day for a week. Make a list to choose from and put a check mark by the ones you try.
- Try something new every week/month
- Learn a new skill
- Dream BIG and make a plan
- Get involved in your community
- Talk to strangers / engage in conversations
- Take a different route to work or home
- Change your morning or event routine
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- Willingness is the Secret: 3 Lies Your Mind Will Tell You When You Are Afraid
- Toons-day: Inside Job
- How to Find Direction: Use Your Values
(c) Copyright 2013 Brenda Bomgardner
Jocelyn Hilling says
I love this blog post and it is very applicable to my life and practice at the moment. I truly appreciate the part about willingness to be uncomfortable, and radical acceptance. I value the practice of acceptance of emotions and willingness to sit with them regardless of the pleasure involved. So much can be said about patience during times such as those. I feel as though the DBT group I teach offers so many of these skills and I teach client to sit with those feelings. The cool thing is every group I learn something new about taking risks, and also allowing myself to grow with my client in their experience. Nice Read!
Brenda Bomgardner says
It so nice to have you drop in. I can’t agree with you more about learning from the people we work with in therapy and groups. DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is a fellow traveler to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT). Both teach mindfulness skills as a tool to help create the change people want in their lives and to get them moving in the direction they desire.
The radical acceptance is a tough act for both clients and therapists as we too can struggle with the pain of a stuck individual who is in the midst of deep painful suffering. Your comment about patience gets at the heart of the journey. Sometimes we are so focused on outcomes and results we miss the specialness of living the journey called life.
Also, one of the main differences is DBT is more manualized with a specific protocol compared it ACT. Stop in anytime.
Tamara G. Suttle says
Ahhhh, Brenda! You must be living in my head again! We’re on standby at my house for pre-evacuation due to the Black Forest Fire. Hmph! This whole mindfulness and willingness to be uncomfortable thing is working well for me right now. That and some deep breathing are keeping me from totally wigging out (well, I didn’t say I was doing it perfectly!). Darn these fires! I swear! I grew up in Texas where tornado watches were an every-day-of-summer kind of thing. We never thought twice about them. But, these Colorado wildfires are something else! And, for those of us that are less than oranized – well, let’s just say . . . I’m getting lots of opportunities to perfect this whole mindfulness thing:)
Thank you for continuing to write a beautiful blog and for nudging us all in the right direction by modeling the way. Blessings to you on your journey!
robert liebelt says
Brenda I always enjoy your mindfulness! thanks for your blog ( Or Unconditional Mindfulness Place) BoB
Brenda Bomgardner says
Bob, Thank you stopping in for a quick visit and the kind words. I like the twist you put on the post with “Unconditional Mindfulness.” It sound so self-loving and compassionate. When practicing mindfulness the by product is self-compassion as we learn to experience our vulnerable humanness.
I hope to chat again soon.
Brenda Bomgardner says
Gosh Tamara – I heard about the wildfires while I was out of the country. I am sorry about your situation. At this time the Black Forest is mostly contained and I pray your home was spared.
Deep breathing and mindfulness can be useful in accepting the natural response of “WIGGING OUT” in a situation like the one you are and have been facing. Mindfulness and acceptance is being willing to be with the ‘Ugh” and not in denial of the fear and anger of your own experience. It sounds like you have had more than your share of the destruction mother nature can dole out and learned how to cope effectively.
What delights me about you is the kind words you leave while in the process of facing a difficult situation. I believe this is one of the gifts of mindfulness and that is the ability to behave in a manner congruent with your values. Your values speak loudly with kindness and encouragement of people whose lives your touch.
Thank you for being you!
Brenda, I love the phrase you used, “to stop being at war with oneself.” I know the times in my life when I’ve felt most “me” have been when I’ve done exactly that. When I’ve been able to let myself be ‘me’-whoever that might be that day. Whether thats happy, sad, scared, excited, etc. It’s a good reminder too, because I know I’ve found myself recently being more of a reflection of what I think others are thinking about me rather than who I actually am. Now, just to work on that…:)
Brenda Bomgardner says
Sarah, glad to have you stop in and share your experience. I appreciate your comment about being a “reflection” of what what us to be…or at least what we think they want. Quite often a person will do something and our interpretation (often a trigger) is grounded in our own history. The history of our experiences in life continue to shape us in today in the moment. I can think of when I was a child and all I wanted was my father’s attention and approval so I reacted by being what he communicated. The persona was a stereotypical feminine girl. Sugar and spice…you know the rest. I use mindfulness skills to help myself become aware of those programed and automatic ways of being. With mindfulness I get to choose how I want to be in this world. It also, helps with recognize – it’s not about me – and don’t take things so personal.
Please stop in again.